by Guide Blog


Do they make a Skagit for my rod?

Skagit heads are available for almost any two-handed outfit – a #7 Switch rod for instance, or the new #2 – #5 weight Trout Speys.

The lightest Skagits need lighter tips as well. Some even cast VersiLeaders. You can’t put a giant fly and heavy tip on those of course but, compared to other line options for the same rod #, the Skagit advantage will still be there.

Single-handed rods work with Skagit too. All the same rules apply re; the best Spey cast to use – no overheads without a rethink of weight and so on. One final, important swap to make: Line ratings for Single-handed rods (AFTMA) are not the weight as those for two-handed rods (AFTTA). Subtract three from your trout rod #rating to buy a matching two-handed line. So a 9’ #5 rod would match well with RIO’s Skagit Trout Spey 225 grain / #2

What is the perfect Skagit rod?

Any Spey rod on the market now or recently, between 11’ and 15’ should work with a Skagit no problem. If you are choosing from an arsenal or buying one just for the job then there’s a general consensus that rods that bend a bit more and a bit deeper, as opposed to being too fast/tip actioned, work best of all. A slightly shorter rod could be an option since the lines are short. But be careful not to end up with a #8 Skagit outfit if you plan to bring it out when your #10 Spey outfit can’t cope!

What goes on the end of the Sink tip / T tip?

Level nylon/tippet from a spool should be all that’s needed on the end. Perhaps 4’ – 6’ or maximum 7’ depending on fly size. Bigger, heavier flies cast better on shorter leaders. There’s no need to add anything tapered to these fast sinking tips.

Can I just use my PolyLeaders/VersiLeaders on the end instead of getting new tips?

With light Skagit heads – #5 rods and down, they’re good. For each size bigger than that, they’re an increasing compromise. Skagit heads were built to cast a fly line tip – which we add. Whereas Polyleaders were made to go on the end of a similar fly line tip. So at some point, they will feel too light. Big parts of the ‘Skagit advantage’ are also lost using leaders – getting deeper and turning over big flies. We’d say get a few matching tips for your Skagit rather than miss its potential.

Can I get a Floating tip?

Yes, there are floating tips available to match Skagits. Handy to have in the wallet no doubt. There is a ‘but’ though… Bizarrely, you may find it feels heavier with the floating tip! Because sunk tips stay mostly forward of us throughout a Spey cast, they simply provide an anchor and limit the size of the D loop. With the floating tip, adding a standard-issue Tapered leader or Polyleader adds to the ‘casting length’ significantly. In turn, more line will go back making a bigger D loop and we feel more of that Skagit head weight during the cast. My Skagit mentor told me that he’d make around a 50-grain reduction in body size if fishing Skagit as a full floater. So, it could be fine, but it may be ideal to swap everything. At that point, for full floating, we’d probably go with a Scandi style Head instead.

Can I mend a Skagit?

Absolutely! At shorter range it’s a breeze – when the heavy Skagit body is close to the rod tip, mend gently: It was designed so the sink tip and fly have to follow it.

As more shooting line separates you from the Skagit body, the technique gradually changes.

The earliest option to mend is also the hardest one to master – an ‘aerial mend’. Being able to affect the angle at which the line lands offers the best possible head start for your cast. If this is new though it’s worth exploring the principles first with someone qualified – and definitely without the T tip and big fly.

The next opportunity comes soon after the line has landed. With a tight line you can pull directly on that sink tip for a moment – just long enough to cross or uncross your hands – sweeping the rod over from left to right – or right to left. Whichever way you want the back of the Skagit head to move. You can repeat this if needed but otherwise, once the cast is underway it’s more about “steering” the Skagit head. Fishing with the rod tip in a ‘half-raised’ position will keep the shooting line off the water so it doesn’t drag. From there, reaching the rod tip out over the river will slow things down a bit whereas bringing it downstream and to the bank ahead of the line will bring the fly across faster.

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